The real estate market is a constantly evolving and competitive market. With housing prices changing and the expectations for houses changing, it’s a market that often lends itself to copious amounts of competitiveness and pessimism.
Mike and Pam Tezak of Realty Executives Premier strive to serve the Valparaiso community while at the same time keeping an open and positive attitude that extends not only to their customers, but their employees as well.
“When we first started this business, we just knew at the time, there had to be a better way,” says Pam Tezak. “We wanted to create a company where our employees could feel comfortable working here. Real estate is a 24 hours business with clients calling at all hours. We wanted to create a place where our employees could bring their children to the office and feel completely comfortable.”
Mike Tezak opened Realty Executives Premier during the real estate slump, entering the market during one of the most difficult times for buying and selling houses. Despite being an economically unstable time, Mike and Pam said they managed to survive during this time due to their excellent employees and faith in their abilities.
“It’s funny but despite the time being rough, one of our agents had their best year ever during that time,” says Mike.
Mike used his past experiences in the real estate business to craft a business and environment that was built on the concepts of being an open and positive workplace.
“I took everything negative about working in the real estate business and created a place where people want to work,” says Mike. “We don’t pick favorites here. We all work together, we all encourage each other to succeed and we’re all here to help each other.”
Pam and Mike stress the importance of having an open office where nothing is off limits and everyone is on equal footing.
"Our offices are open, we have no closed doors. When Mike leaves, anyone is free to go into his office to take and use what they need,” says Pam. “Mike is always ready to answer his phone for clients and employees as well in and out of the office.”
This mentality of positive thinking and working with good people has lent itself to their current and most ambitious undertaking, the complete restoration of their main office basement on 310 Lincoln Way.
“When we first came to Valpo, we were amazed at everything that was happening here,” says Pam. “I just knew this is where we needed to be. Watching it grow has been amazing.”
“We’ve looked in other places before settling on Valparaiso for our office, but by being in Valpo, we definitely feel like we’re a part of the community,” says Mike.
By firmly establishing themselves in the Valparaiso community, this lead Mike and Pam onto their next big project, turning the dilapidated 10,000 square foot basement underneath their office into livable working spaces.
“Our company opened seven years ago and we rented the building for that time, but then the bank made us an offer to buy and we decided that this was the time to do so,” says Pam. “The building deal was closed on February 6th, and Mike was there on February 7th with a sledgehammer knocking down walls.”
The path to restoring the basement was not an easy one, as the entire condition of the basement was not yet fit for occupancy and filled with health and structural hazards that had to be addressed.
“I remember just the entire basement being flooded with water and mold covering the walls,” recalls Mike. “It was damp and musty, the smell was awful and overwhelming.”
However, thanks to some dedicated cleaning, restoration and financial assistance from the city, the building is on track for a full restoration and already features full occupancy from organizations such as Meridian Title Company and Eng Lending, with one of the most recent additions being Rolling Hills Vineyard Church.
“We have 100% occupancy and signed leases, we’re lucky that we have such loyal businesses who were on board with what we wanted to do and shared the same vision,” says Mike.
Mike and Pam also received help from the city of Valparaiso through a city grant called the façade grant which grants money to businesses wanting to improve their interior and exterior in cooperation with the city.
“It’s unbelievable how helpful the city has been and how streamlined this process has been,” says Pam.
“The city has been awesome,” says Mike. “It looks intimidating and truth be told, there is quite a bit of paperwork that goes into it, but we had some great help from an architect we hired and we just weren’t afraid to keep moving forward.”
The finished plans include separate offices complete with finished floors and bathrooms, and in the case of Rolling Hills Vineyard Church a large area for the church congregation and a recreation area for younger visitors. The outside will feature planters and new exterior reminiscent of some of the more traditional buildings located in downtown Valparaiso.
At the end of the day, Mike and Pam both agree that looking back from where they began to where they are now, illustrates a long and ultimately successful journey, but the one constant that remained along the way was hard work, a positive attitude and surrounding themselves with good people.
“I still remember in the beginning we knew we would never make a million, that was never our goal,” says Mike. “We came here to be flexible in this market and surround ourselves with good, loyal people.”
“The way this all came together, it’s kind of interesting to think about the timing of everything,” says Pam. "If this building opportunity came up when we were first getting started, we would have never been able to do this. I’m so thankful for our employees and the opportunities. You can never look back, but only forward.”